Jimmy Harper arrives in Chicago with the Diggs Monroe Jazz Orchestra, seeking fame and fortune. Instead he descends into the jazz underworld where he becomes entangled in dark dealings with a sinister mob boss and in an erotic affair with a black drag performer. In this unfamiliar world, Jimmy begins to question whether he can trust anyone, even his old band members.
The trilogy Medicine for the Blues explores the complexities of gender and sexuality through the historical lens of the early 1920s. Chicago Blues follows Book 1 Acquaintance. The story concludes in Book 3 Dangerous Medicine.
Plot: Although this is Book Two of a trilogy, it stands alone well; a page-turning portrayal of 1923 musicians, and the gay and cross-dressing men of the era who must hide (sometimes in plain sight). Engrossing scenes range from tense to sexy to musical interludes.
Prose/Style: Lucid descriptions finely express a passion for music, and also work well in accurately depicting the era and its people. Sensuality and sexual scenes are adeptly handled.
Originality: The story of a 1920s young White jazz musician who identifies as gay and has no racist attitudes or biases is unique, but this inside look at the interracial LGBTQ+ community 100 years ago increases the originality of the plot.
Character Development: Characters can be visualized as living, thinking, feeling, breathing people here. Jimmy's innocence and guilelessness are endearing, and Chicago's 1923 gangsters are captivating. The personalities of the LGBTQ+ characters are enchanting and memorable.
Blurb: Even sensational jazz and blues music cannot transcend racism in this extraordinary, erotic story of Chicago's 1920s LGBTQ+ community.
Date Submitted: June 18, 2019
You are going to find it difficult to believe you are not drinking gin in a speak-easy in 1920s Chicago.The style and quality of writing that comes from the heart and pen of Jeff Stookey seems so real. He has an incredible eye for catching so many details in this historical fiction. His scene-setting is marvelous, dialog and action are very believable. Everything seems amazingly real. I give this book 5 stars! It’s that good.
“Before opening my drag cabaret in the late 1960s, I owned Portland’s first espresso café. After hours, patrons would fill the basement for a late night jazz experience. If only I had thought to introduce a drag queen jazz singer... Jeff Stookey's Chicago Blues hits all the right notes!”—Darcelle XV/Walter Cole, author of Just Call Me Darcelle and Guinness World Record's “Oldest Working Drag Queen.”
“Eric/Erica’s thoughtful and sensual guidance of Jimmy through the multi-colored experience of underground drag culture left me feeling like Dorothy in Oz. Chicago Blues is accompanied by a melodic score you can feel, at once encouraging and also a bit sad…a finely woven tale of self-discovery and acceptance.”
—Poison Waters/Kevin Cook, Drag Queen Extraordinaire
“Chicago Blues pitches young musician Jimmy Harper from Oregon into the dizzying, dazzling world of brothels and booze, of mobsters, speakeasies, and female impersonators. Stookey tells the story at a jazzy, propulsive pace, capturing the vibrance and danger of Chicago in the 1920s.”—Alan Rose, host of KLTV’s Book Chat and author of The Unforgiven.